Workout Log 16 August 2012: retail therapy, Sarastro, Isis undt Osiris and whatever the hell else I think of at this time

30 minute free dance with weights first thing. Feels good but I need to swim more since a bit of pain persists between the sciatic notches. The freedance has superseded my former DVD workouts since the DVD workouts force me to make unsafe moves whereas I can adapt the freedance to my feelings.

On Celebrex which seems to work ok.

A Bus to “Hell”

The 69X express bus from Tin Shui to Mong Kok is a spiritual experience. It leaves the flat district of Tin Shui Wai (the City of Sadness to some) and then passes through a sort of wilderness area for Hong Kong has a surprising amount of unusable, mountain land, and then descends into the container port, with huge warehouses of the sort where I audition for roles in films and TVCs, massive, Star Wars style loaders, many container boxes neatly stacked. A place of things and not people, a world with its own laws.

The container port is a tribute to Mr McLean…the man who noticed what a waste it was, at least from management’s point of view, to pay great big strong men to load rice or bananas all day long. I can see McLean’s point but a man needs money. Mclean arranged it so that the stevedores were retired in comfort to his credit and today, automated monsters handle our Stuff from Hong Kong to Long Beach to the THames.

An enormous faded Kent cigarette sign from the Sixties when cigarette advertisements were legal, on the side of a warehouse. Then you transition into Sham Shui Po, a poor district where the people struggle for existence. They look at you with wonder, it seems, for what’s that Westerner doing here in Asia Hell when he could live in the USA? Did he not know how good he had it back in Chicago where the park is empty?

[An ad for US schools contrasts a Hong Kong guy kicking it in California with the same guy sitting in a tiny flat in Mong Kong.]

Indeed, what am I doing here? Good question. I am suffering in the old sense when “suffering” meant “experience” for like Spinoza I discovered that seeking pleasure is a dead end that leads to fear of eternal punishment. Suffering is knowledge. We are made to know as a form of love.

Besides, the bus was comfortable; anything to get away from those hellish metal flat seats of the West Rail on my bony ass. I got off at Mong Kok and found an electronics mall, and replaced a misplaced cable, and found a little soup restaurant…where the owner steered me away from the Szechuan and into satay. Wisely perhaps.

Nobody making way for an old guy who looked less Chinese and more like my father because old people of different ethnicities look like each other.

HAMLET
Thrift, thrift, Horatio! the funeral baked meats
Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.
Would I had met my dearest foe in heaven
Or ever I had seen that day, Horatio!
My father!–methinks I see my father.
HORATIO
Where, my lord?
HAMLET
In my mind’s eye, Horatio.

See Andre Eichmann’s work; he photographs Hong Kong with a perceptive eye that sees past the duty free tourist BS. Like my sister’s work, Andre’s work captures…something post-millennial, end of the worldish, where meaning appears as signs and wonders, Euclidean shapes in the sky. This is the Hong Kong I experienced yesterday and of my dream last May when, after the Debacle, I dreamed I’d been beaten in a Kung Fu Fight and had to go to the Queen Alexandra Hospital for Losers of Kung Fu Fights.

The sky bluer than usual as some sort of approaching typhoon pumps away the pollution.

I suck at photography. When I saw the enormous Kent cigarette sign I fumbled for my crappy camera and could not find it. In 2008, I tried to take a photo of a cool train in Paris’ Gare du Nord, but there were some undocumented Somalis on the platform who got real mad at me since they thought I was a cop. Whereas I can sit in a cafe and make someone’s portrait and they are never the wiser, especially in Paris.

I just tried the cable I bought in Mong Kok to hook up my crappy camera. Doesn’t work. I shall now buy ANOTHER crappy camera since the dripping forest in which I live is quite beautiful and I am also going to Thailand next week, God willing, after my cancer followup. I’d like to document it better.

OK, maybe I won’t. Maybe I will go BACK to Mong Kok today and get the guy who sold me the cable to help me link the computer and the camera. It should work, after all. But if it doesn’t I shall track down a nice simple idiot proof camera.

Retail Therapy

We do retail therapy here. With all my problems I’ve had some real good days especially the last couple of weeks owing to endorphin buildup from faithful workouts. Shopping for the things I actually need gives me good feelings as long as it has a spiritual basis and makes sense. Food tastes better now that I’ve quit that stupid Nicotine gum.

As an example of retail therapy, I have been wearing the same pair of oversized size 34 jeans unthinkingly, and I was transferring from the Red Line to the West Rail yesterday at Mei Foo, which has a minimall. So I was walking by Giordano’s and they sell cheap and flimsy jeans that are nonetheless OK, and I went in and bought two extremely hot size 31s for my new extremely hot body, wearing one pair out the store and feeling quite pleased with myself.

Later in the day I had to check myself, for I went into Aldo’s in IFC mall. Aldo’s is serious money: Italian shoes at 1750 a pop. No way. I went in mostly because some cute girls were trying on women’s shoes and I was ogling them like a scumbag, but did find much to admire in their men’s shoes, made, in the Italian style, of thin, supple and sweet-smelling leather.

But…my animal rights friends won’t wear leather shoes and I really have no business buying such shoes unless I have a job at HSBC requiring business attire, and I neither have nor want such a job any more, as in this clerihew:

HSBC
Can do without me
They will I am certain survive
And, absent my services, even thrive

Nope, my dream was always to be, like Neil Diamond, forever in blue jeans, and not have to work too much to survive. And here it is…along with a piano in my flat and an incurable disease which is fatal but not serious, or perhaps vice-versa. Deo gratias nun danke and fiat voluntas Tua, thy will be done.

Across the way from Aldo’s is a grocery store, City Super, reputed believably to be the most expensive in the world. I don’t shop there for my own needs, for on Lamma Island there are several inexpensive family owned shops and Just Green the health food shop, but it’s fun to shop for gifts for friends at City Super.

They have waaaaay overpriced stuff from all over the world for the refined palate of the super-rich who live in Central and Discovery Bay. French and British cheeses, strange bread, soda pop from Japan! Chocolate from Denmark! Seaweed! Kimchi! Booze, from Budweiser to rarefied potations with eels in them!

It’s strictly for presents and not often. I bought an enormous Diamond Jubillee tin of choco biscuits for my British Mem Sahib neighbor who’d helped me out in June being a nice lady, at City Super but anyone who shops there regular needs her head examined. I ate quite a number of the cookies in the tin with her encouragement last Sunday as we shared tea for I need to get back to normal weight but left the tin with her for her kids to demolish. Then it shall be a family heirloom, worth significant money in 2100 AD, being a Diamond Jubilee tin, decorated with the profile of a young Elizabeth from the coin.

Young men think it’s hip to make fun of the Royals and the Royals are rather amusing. However, we do not understand the message of Royalty. The Royals mean…we are getting old and all-devouring Time shall take us even as Time knocks on Prince Phillip’s door as I write.

I was born when Harry Truman was President and George VI was king. George VI was about to hear some very, very bad news about cancer in consequence of his smoking habit…which he may have adopted because of shyness if that recent film, The King’s Speech, is to be believed. Poor chap did look like John o’ Gaunt long before the diagnosis and back then there was nothing to be done. Of course, this is still rather true for lung cancer which is why I count myself lucky that despite my own smoking I have prostate and not lung cancer so far.

But back to the mall…there’s a Dymock’s and it sucks since people just don’t read here. I got lucky recently at this limited Dymock’s, finding Jennifer Homan’s Apollo’s Angels, an interesting if untheorized history of ballet, and Dr Siddhartha Mukerjhee’s excellent book, The Emperor of all Maladies, a summa of what we know now about Cancer.

Zara’s in the same mall is more my speed as opposed to Aldo’s shoes, for Zara’s an international budget clothier that isn’t in the USA. They have socks, underwear but I do not like their jeans. They are big in Spain.

Retail therapy, then. Cash and carry. You can come as you are but pay as you go, as Laurie Anderson puts it. CheerYouUp.

Sarastro, undt Isis und Osiris: Meditation on Shamanism and Self-Healing

What I found so moving starting at 41:00 at this YouTube is that Branagh’s imaginary Sarastro, the leader of the Red troops in Branagh’s boy’s dream, is a healer, whom Prince Tamino first encounters taking care of the wounded in the war between him and the Queen of the Night.

The first Chinese emperors were doctors and farmers and not just rulers. Lao T’se’s ideal ruler emptied the heads of people, and strengthened their bones.

That’s what I must do for myself as my own Sovereign, take care of my wounded and sick in the hospital, like Omar Sharif and Julie Andrews in the frontline hospital in Dr Zhivago.

The actor/singer who plays Sarastro is a German bass, Rene Pape. He seems perfect for the role. His voice is perfect, round and comforting.

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2 Responses to “Workout Log 16 August 2012: retail therapy, Sarastro, Isis undt Osiris and whatever the hell else I think of at this time”

  1. Rick Nilges Says:

    Glad to see you know your transportation history. Malcom McLean also owned Mclean Trucking of Winston-Salem, NC which I worked for. He divested and went public with the trucking company in the Sixties and made his fortune in Sea-Land , his container concept from the Fifties. He died just a few years ago, one of the pioneers of the transportation industry.

  2. spinoza1111 Says:

    When you come out here, I will show you our container port. It’s not as modern as Shanghai: for example, the ships have to keep their engines running to power the DVDs and a/c for the crews who are not permitted to come ashore without visas, whereas Shanghai has a sort of monster power strip which will power the ships. The result is that the low grade fuel causes pollution.

    Malcolm McLean was a great man totally unlike these “hedge fund managers” since McLean CREATED as well as DESTROYED good jobs! It’s not “creative destruction” if you just lay people off. Hong Kong guys are sending their kids to Stanford because they have skilled jobs, and aren’t just manually humping cargo as of old.

    My colleague Sam Chambers, a shipping journalist and executive from Britain, traveled all around the world as a lad on oil tankers and containerships, and his book OIL AND WATER is most readable.

    Being crew or officer on a ship is hard on family life so it’s difficult today for companies to find competent officers. For crew, they just go to some hell hole and post an ad.

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